Chobani’s Newest Food Incubator Is Boosting Veterans’ Food Businesses

In the fall of 2016, Chobani started a business incubator to provide like-minded but smaller food startups with $25,000 in equity-free funding and the coaching necessary to grow to the next level. The idea was to expand the ecosystem of socially good and health-focused companies, but Chobani, it turns out, has learned as much about its own business as the companies in the incubator have learned from Chobani.

Last year, Chobani realized its program wasn’t doing a great job reaching female and minority business owners, so it broadened its recruitment strategy. Their spring 2019 class was, in contrast, especially diverse. Next month, Chobani will use another lesson to launch its first incubator class for veterans. The move comes after analyzing the applications for its last round, which featured a pool of more than 600 companies but only 15 led by people with previous military service. “That’s such a small number relative to the number of applications that we saw,” says incubator director Zoe Feldman. “I dug a little deeper and saw that [the ones who did enter] were family-owned businesses, very small, and really representative of all demographies across America.”

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